Posts Tagged ‘criminal mischief’

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That’s A Crime?–Willfully Damaging Art Works in Public Buildings

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

This is Part 2 in a series of blogs dedicated to obscure and perhaps unknown criminal laws in Florida.

Let me ask you something, what is not art?  ~Author Unknown

Today’s post deals with willfully damaging works of art in Florida.  Although perhaps it is not a surprise that damaging art constitutes a crime, most folks might think the crime would fall under Criminal Mischief.  But did you know there is actually a Florida statute that directly deals with willfully damaging art works in public buildings?

The statute can be found at 806.14 (Fla. Stat.), and states:

(1) Whoever willfully destroys, mutilates, defaces, injures, or, without authority, removes any work of art displayed in a public building is guilty of a criminal offense.
(2)(a) If the damage to the work of art is such that the cost of restoration, in labor and supplies, or if the replacement value, is $200 or less, the offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) If the damage to the work of art is such that the cost of restoration, in labor and supplies, or if the replacement value, is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) If the damage to the work of art is such that the cost of restoration, in labor and supplies, or if the replacement value, is $1,000 or more, the offense is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

 

Background

This statute first became law in 1980, and was last amended in 1991.

Application

While researching this statute in Westlaw, no case law history emerged.

Possible defenses

While there is no case law to support my argument, there may be several defenses to this charge:

  • The damage to the art was not done willfully.
  • The building was not a public building.
  • The damaged product was not art.

Of all three defenses, the third is perhaps the most interesting, because as the introductory quote to this blog suggests, what is NOT art?  What if the damaged property was a clock?  Is a clock art?  Not surprisingly, there is no definition of “art” in the statute.

(Disclaimer:  This blog is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF AND RECLASSIFICATION

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Under Florida law, there are certain crimes which become more serious based on how many prior convictions someone has for the same crime.  What looks like a misdemeanor may in fact become a felony charge.  Criminal mischief is one such charge.

Florida statute 806.13 defines criminal mischief as:

(1)(a) A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.

The enhancement portion of the statute reads as follows:

(4) If the person has one or more previous convictions for violating this subsection, the offense under subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as a felony of the third degree…

For the complete statute on criminal mischief, go here.

For example, if a person breaks a window of another, doing $75 damage, and it is their first criminal mischief charge, they will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or $500 fine.

But if the same person had one prior criminal mischief conviction, they may be charged with a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or $5000 fine.

Criminal mischief  is not the only crime which can be reclassified.  Other crimes which can be reclassified include DUI, prostitution, petit theft, and battery.

The decision on whether or not to reclassify lies within the discretion of the State Attorney’s Office.  If you are charged with criminal mischief in Florida, make sure you hire a defense attorney who understands the reclassification scheme.

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